Gillian: I was visiting my sister and was having a shower. She had the most marvelous soap in the shower, it was a peppermint goats milk soap. Well, I instantly fell in love with it’s creamy, bubbly, minty goodness. It was made by her friend, so I figured if her friend could make it, then certainly I could too. So, a trip to the library and the grocery was next, then I measured, melted and mixed. Woohoo, magic in the soap pot. That was it, instant addiction, he he he. That was over 10 year ago.
Anne-Marie: I know what you mean about instant addiction, ha ha. Do you have any other outlets other than your website?
Gillian: Yes, I love the local farmer’s market and go every Friday. It is my favourite place to sell soaps. I also do several craft and Christmas shows in the fall and, of course, my website.
Anne-Marie: What inspires your soapy designs?
Gillian: Inspiration is all around us. I get ideas from all different sources from art work, to spring napkins to wall paper. When I see something visually appealing, my mind automatically starts to think in terms of soap…Can I make a design like that? Could I combine those colours? what would that look like? How could I make that effect in soap? I can’t help it. It’s where my brain goes.
Anne-Marie: I can relate to that too! Do you ever follow trends or customer requests?
Gillian: This is a standing joke around our house, because I like to buck trends, and what other soapmakers are making. For example: swirling. I like a pretty swirl, but I think there is so much more out there that can be done with swirls and so many other cool designs other than swirls. I do take special requests and also design custom soap bars, but my designs are mostly my own whims.
Anne-Marie: How long do you spend on your more intricate soaps?
Gillian: When I am playing with a new idea or concept, I may make several batches as I learn what works and how I want to change it, or new colour combination I want to try. Sometimes, it takes a couple of tries to figure out how to create a certain look. I have been known to spend several hours on a single batch, but generally, it takes only an hour or two for most of my designs.
Anne-Marie: What are your interests and hobbies when you are not soapmaking?
Gillian: I am a busy mother of 4 and also run a small ranch. I love my animals, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, cats, dogs, ducks and guinea fowl. I also have a large garden that I enjoy and keeps me busy. I have quite a few hobbies that keep me busy, knitting, baking, cooking, hunting, fishing, reading, 4-H, and I am working very hard this year as a board member of the HSMG.
Anne-Marie: Do you have any advice for those wanting to start their own business?
Gillian: 1. Pay someone to do the jobs that you are not good at and/or detest. For example, I am a horrible procrastinator when it comes to book work. I really despise it. So, I pay someone a modest amount monthly to do my books. I am so much happier and it is money well spent.
2. This industry, soap and candle making, is very artistic and creative.
Remember to think outside the box and go ahead and create those fun new products and designs.
3. Join a professional Trade organization. The support, information, education etc. is invaluable to small businesses.
Anne-Marie: Thank you so much for the insight into your “little bitty” business. Keep us updated on your latest and greatest soapy designs!
in the 2009 HMSG Soapers Showcase. Congrats Gillian!